'Tis the season - Winter Holiday Baking 2017

That lime tart with basil is stunning!

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I’m a sucker for a tarte au citron. Put it on a dessert menu and I’ll order it. Put it on the counter of the patisserie section of the supermarket and I’ll buy it.

But a lime and basil tart is another, much higher, level altogether. I kneel in total admiration, naf.



Oh, how times have changed.

This morning, Mrs Harters was glancing through the only cookbook we have that belonged to my mother - the Good Housekeeping book published in 1954. Significant year in British food history - as it’s when the final item, sugar, stopped being rationed in the UK, after World War 2.

Many of the recipes now seem very dated. Not least the one titled “N…r Minstrel Cake”. Nope, we won’t be trying to recreate it.


I have one too … It’s still packed away I don’t remember the date, but
I agree the recipes are so very dated and a hoot!!

This is an irrefutable law of nature.

Looks great! Reminds me of a king cake. (The French version, not the New Orleans one.)

Do you have any openings?

I usually use egg white instead of water, but I think water may be better. As soon as I add the egg white, the paste starts coming together and gets really difficult to process. I burned out my food processor motor earlier this year making almond paste.

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Is that similar to the law that says "everything can be improved by the addition of bacon - except custard. "

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I’ve been so busy the past month but I was determined to get some cookie dough ready for this weekend so this week little by little I made and froze five different cookie doughs, some old favorites and some new recipes.

  1. Magnolia Bakery’s peanut butter cookies (via Smitten Kitchen) with pb and chocolate chips
  2. Joy the Baker’s melty chocolate truffle cookies
  3. Big soft ginger cookies
  4. Joy the Baker’s brown butter white chocolate macadamia nut cookies
  5. Baked bakery’s brown butter bourbon balls that I made with pecans instead of the walnuts called for because for me pecans and bourbon just go together

Tomorrow I’ll spend a couple of hours baking a big batch for the neighbors who will stop by for the neighborhood gift exchange and for Christmas Eve. Can’t wait to have a sampling myself with some coquito (currently mellowing in the fridge) and a handful of David Lebovitz’s spiced pecans.
Happy holiday baking everyone!


Cookies this year:

  • decorated orange vanilla spice rollouts
  • ginger molasses cookies
  • Baked NYC’s oatmeal cookies with cranberries and white chocolate
  • Momofuku Milk Bar blueberries and cream
  • snowy-topped brownie drops
  • ube (purple yam) crinkles
  • Nigella Lawson’s Christmas chocolate cookies

Candies this year:

  • Ottolenghi’s honey macadamia coconut caramels
  • Cupcake Jemma’s salted chocolate caramels

I’m basically 75% cookie at this point.


Your decorated cookies look gorgeous! I was going to make the Baked oatmeal cookies but my brother in law requested white chocolate macadamia nut so I went with those instead. The brownie drops looks great too! Where is that recipe from?

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Left to right-- chocolate truffle cookies, white chocolate macadamia nut cookies, PB cookies, bourbon pecan balls
Not pictured are the failed big soft ginger cookies-- I think I let the dough get too soft so they spread way too much and will be crumbled for a cream cheese gingerbread trifle after Christmas.
The chocolate truffle cookies are too sweet for my taste and next time I’d use cocoa nibs instead of chocolate chips and wouldn’t roll them in powdered sugar. The white chocolate macadamia nut cookies are perfect, as are the peanut butter ones and the bourbon pecan balls. The bourbon pecan balls are rolled in bourbon infused Demerara sugar and are so unique and delicious. Winners!

Spiced pecans with a sprinkle of piment d’Espelette for heat. Can’t get enough of these!


Lovely cookies! I made some fudgy peppermint brownies last night to give as gifts - I had to taste for quality control, though! :slight_smile: I used my favorite brownie recipe, Robert’s Absolute Best Brownies from David Lebovitz ( https://leitesculinaria.com/36645/recipes-brownies.html ), and added a bag of Andes Peppermint chips, reserving a handful to sprinkle on top. The ones I put in the batter dissolved and added a subtle hint of mint, while the ones on top kind of crystallized, creating a nice crunchy topping with a stronger but not overpowering mint flavor. If you like a less-sweet chocolate dessert, I highly recommend this recipe. I have a good one for chocolate truffle cookies, too, that is not especially sweet - it uses unsweetened chocolate and cocoa, and no powdered sugar coating.


On the go this afternoon at Harters Hall…

A classic pithivier for tonight’s dessert. It fits with our French style dinner…salmon rillettes to start followed by boeuf bourginon.

A swiss roll, with raspberry jam. It’ll form the base of or festive trifle. After 40+ years of making my mother’s recipe every year, we’re doing something different. The cake will be doused in sweet sherry as is traditional. Then topped with slightly softened raspberries and blackberries. Then custard and finally whipped double crea,. A sprinkling of flaked almonds finishes it.

And, after I’ve finished this mug of coffee, I’m going to get started on some savoury biscuits to go with other (bought) nibbles for before the family lunch tomorrow. Flour, baking powder, cayenne, butter, anchovies, cheddar and pine nuts get mixed with a splash or two of water into a dough. That’s rolled out to about a 5mm thickness and biscuits stamped out, then baked at 180 for 20 - 25 minutes.


Anchovies, pine nuts and cheddar - very unusual combo but it sounds delicious!

I’ve done a similar biscuit with anchovies and olives for ages. We’ve had this recipe for quite while and I just fancied a change. In the event , I’m using mature Cheshire instead of the Cheddar.

Almost all gone, thank goodness.

Thanks! Can’t go wrong with a classic white chocolate macadamia cookie, yum! Your cookies look delicious.

Here’s the brownie drop recipe: https://www.thespruce.com/brownie-crackle-top-cookies-recipe-1807191. The mixing method is a little unusual, but made for a beautiful texture in the end product.

I’ve been obsessed with mint chocolate lately, so I’ll have to give this recipe a go! Thanks for the recommendation :relaxed:

Finally got around to sorting my pics. Made gingerbread cookies with the kids. The little one helped roll out and cut the cookies. Had a few nieces over and everyone had a blast decorating and eating the cookies. I was worried they wouldn’t like the homemade kind, but the cookies disappeared in no time.



My holiday baking did not go quite as planned.

Successes included double-batches of mini loaves of persimmon-apple, banana-strawberry, and gingerbread. Also a triple-batch of the very popular Kahlua cake (baked as mini loaves).

The Thursday and Friday before Christmas I made double batches of nine types of cookie dough, planning to bake everything on Saturday.

Came down with a fever Friday night and was sick through New Year’s. Kept thinking I’d feel better so neglected to move the doughs from fridge to freezer. Had to throw everything out this week.

I did make a gigantic batch of Chex Mix - and fell asleep while it was baking. That ended up too scorched to eat and cleaning the baking dishes was a challenge.

I bought ingredients to make candies, too: those didn’t happen, either.

So. Yeah. On the plus side, I have a bunch of quick breads in the freezer.


Oh no! That’s awful (both the illness and all of that wasted cookie dough . . . which I am sure would have been delicious) :sob:

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